Just had this thought and I’m still pondering it, but it occurs to me that my approach to the Dodgers and life is like Ted Lasso’s approach to coaching and life. It’s a pretty fundamental need to find and share happiness amid all the chaos.
Category: Life (Page 1 of 10)
Maybe a few minutes after my wife and I made it home from four days of travel and a subsequent fast fast-food run nearing sundown Tuesday, I turned on the Dodger game. Though I had kept up with the Dodgers while I was away, only in the final moments before this game did I realize that Clayton Kershaw would be pitching.
If I looked back at the personal pieces I wrote for Dodger Thoughts, the ones that had more to do with life than with the Dodgers (though certainly, they intersected quite a bit), I could find many I value. But these are the two that come to mind instantly.
“My Phil Dunphy Problem” — February 20, 2012, where I discussed my lifelong anxiety, how easily I could lose faith in myself and, in a word, my pain.
“Love, hate and tears” — December 2, 2009. The title speaks for itself, though it does intersect a great deal with the Dodgers, but speaks even more loudly to my inner pain that was enough to arouse genuine concern to me from at least one reader. . But perhaps the thing that meant the most to me was this: I wrote about the impact an episode of Friday Night Lights had upon me, and the writer of the episode, Rolin Jones, saw my post and wrote this comment.
I can see the lights of Dodger stadium from my deck in echo park. I appreciate the summer fireworks on fridays but mostly I consider the ravine a place to see the cubs three times a year. Someone sent me your piece this morning. Hardly dispensable. More like awesome. You can’t make me like the Dodgers, but I’ll read about them now. Good to know you exist.
From the writer of last night’s “Friday Light Nights”,
I would say that things got worse for me before they got better, and I still have plenty I have to deal with. But I’m happy to report that I’m in a better place now.
Well, hi there.
One of the key things about writing Dodger Thoughts in the glory days was the groove. The more posts I wrote, the easier it was to write them. It’s easier to start a new post when you’re coming off a completed one, because there’s momentum. If I needed a rest, I’d take it. But I’d never need a rest for very long.
The other big component was that the more often I wrote, the more focused I could be, and focus for me is a big part of a successful piece. I didn’t feel like I had to cover everything in one shot. And it allowed me to take the time for longer posts crafted with more care. Perhaps most of all, I felt free to break from the Dodgers to write my more personal thoughts, which quickly became my favorite and most meaningful ones to write.
Which brings me to today, the eve of the 20th anniversary of Dodger Thoughts. As any visitor to the site knows, I haven’t written much here at all since the Dodgers won the 2020 World Series, particularly this year. So there’s the desire to catch up on the team since then, but moreover, the desire to reflect upon the past 20 years in some signifcant way.
So my plan is, rather than writing one grand, winner-take-all post, that I’ll publish in short bursts over the next two days. In a way, it fits with an approach to life that I’ve subconsciously understood but never really crystalized literally until this moment: the less ambition, the easier the success.
We’ll see how it goes. Y’all come back now, ya hear?
Life offers many lanes going the same direction.
If you don’t know it by now, I value the journey more than the destination. Don’t get me wrong — the destination can be amazing, and not reaching it can be so frustrating. Failure to go the distance can sour me on my own journey if I’m not careful.
My novel is Exhibit A. Not only am I so proud of my writing, but it was such a great experience — at times, as I’ve probably said here, my best friend. And yet, it’s been a year-plus since it’s been on the market, and I can’t get it sold. I’ve had editors praise it while saying it’s not marketable. Maybe that’s just their way of being nice. Maybe they’re just lazy, since I think it is easily marketed. Either way, I have to remind my self that the process — the moments of writing that thrilled me (especially when I transcended a roadblock) — that all was the best part.
This is a very long way for me to make a short comment about Clayton Kershaw’s seven perfect innings today.
I have passed the point where I think a World Series title is the be-all, end-all of Major League Baseball. Obviously, the Dodgers’ title satisfied a big longing 18 months ago. Now, I would have rather seen Kershaw go for the perfect game rather then pull him out for the sake of October. For me, Kershaw perfection would generate more pure joy, like that finding that perfect plot point, thrilling beyond measure.
That doesn’t mean that the Dodgers committed a crime by pulling him from the game. Pursuit of the playoffs and a championship is a truly worthy goal. Taking steps to protect a 34-year-old lefty with a record of injuries, so that we can see him on the mound as much as possible going forward, is also a truly worthy goal.
Something good doesn’t mean the other thing is bad. Ice cream comes in many good flavors. I like burgers and I like baby back ribs. We don’t have to choose between one preference and another. Both are there for us as we travel the boulevards of life. We can see the horizon from both lanes.
Either way, seven perfect innings on a cold April afternoon for a legend ain’t bad.
Let’s not assign blame on a happy day. The last thing that makes sense on a day like today is to fight about it.
Today was a moment to treasure. As Vin Scully would surely remind us, be glad that it happened. And let the rest go.
So, I know I didn’t do a wrap-up on the 2021 Dodger season, which is a shame, though if ever there were a season that sort of explained itself, it was this one. Also, I’m just past recoiling from what I thought was an innocent tweet I posted the night the Dodgers were eliminated, that somehow engendered more anger (from three different fan bases) than anything I’ve ever put out.
In any case, I’m hoping some of you might be interested in reading a new endeavor I’ve begun, called Slayed by Voices. Quite simply, it’s a limited series newsletter dedicated to songs I adore. I plan to a deep dive into one song in each post, twice a week, 13 weeks in all. And, before you sweat this part out, it’s FREE. Not just at the start, or on certain days a week – it’s free all the way through.
(I know, it’s a bit weird for the Dodger guy to be doing this, but call it a change of pace.)
I’m publishing on Substack, which means you can subscribe and get it in newsletter form each time, Mondays and Thursdays. Or, you can journey to https://slayedbyvoices.substack.com.
Check out the introductory post here, which explains things further and will allow you to subscribe with the touch of a button.
I hope you’ll give it a look, with the first featured song coming Monday. That said, my feelings won’t be hurt at all if this isn’t your cup of tea. I just wanted to let you know about it.
Hope you all are doing well!
On August 23, 2018, the Dodgers were 4 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West with 34 games to play.
Now, we know that in 2018 Los Angeles came back, won the division and went to the World Series. Then, we did not. Then, I dare say, more people thought the Dodgers wouldn’t come back than thought they would.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, who were in first place in the NL West on April 1, May 1, July 1, August 1 and September 1, have been eliminated.
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) September 23, 2018
Now, the Dodgers are five games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West with 47 games to play. Will the Dodgers come back? We have no idea.
This is another chapter in our great adventure, another milepost in our epic journey of suspense. And we can rue the uncertainty and curse the inanity all we want, but baseball does not exist without it.
So, the novel that I first described here in 2018 and updated here and here and here in 2019 and here at the end of 2020 … is done. Or, at least, it’s as done as these things get before someone agrees to publish them.
And that’s where things are right now. I have an agent who has begun to pitch the novel to editors, and I’m in the rather nauseating stage of waiting for one or more to bite. I even wonder whether it’s bad luck, bad karma or bad form to talk about it at this stage, but here I go.
Joe Biden will be the 28th consecutive President of the United States whose name does not begin with a vowel. There have only been four presidents out of 46 whose names began with vowels, and three of them came consecutively: Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant. The other was Andrew Jackson.
Note: This might not be the most significant aspect of this election.
I’m holding a stuffed toy baseball with a rattle inside. I think my friend Jim gave it to me, decades ago. We weren’t children anymore, but he knew I liked baseball things, and I believe it was just a fun or funny thing he spotted somewhere and decided just to pass along to me as a token. I kept it. The kids played with it when they were younger, then it went into a storage cabinet in the garage. Sometime this month, I pulled it out. It’s been my rally tool. I’ve been shaking it to celebrate the Dodgers doing something well or to try to stop their opponents from doing well.
Woke up at 2 a.m., still imagining A.J. Pollock getting a hit to complete that comeback. A single through the hole. A double down the line. A home run to walk off something incredible. I can see it so clearly. I feel like I can reach out and touch it.
It’s so beautiful. I can see the celebration. I can picture myself flying off the couch and scaring my children with my happiness. I can see it. I can feel it. I almost can’t believe it didn’t happen. A 6 in the bottom of the ninth column of the linescore. It’s right in front of me.
Just one more baseball eluding a fielder.
In sports with a clock, a big comeback often becomes impossible at a certain point, before the game is over. In baseball, it never does. Even in defeat, even as others were spitting on the idea, I was reminded why I cherish that.
Please don’t comment on this if you’re going to be negative. I’ve gotten enough of that elsewhere. If you are angry, I understand — but just leave me out of it.